Why This Redefinition of Infertility May Surprise Singles and Same-Sex Couples

By Published on January 8, 2024

Same-sex couples and singles, no matter their sexual orientation, now qualify as infertile.

That is, at least, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, whose guidelines now redefine infertility to include anyone who needs “donor eggs, sperm, or embryo to conceive as a couple or individual.”

You read that right: Under this official new definition, any individual who prefers not to reproduce naturally is “infertile.”

The guidelines recently released by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine go on to say that “nothing in this definition shall be used to deny or delay treatment to any individual, regardless of relationship status or sexual orientation.”

Not even biology, which requires a man and a woman to conceive a child, matters when it comes to fulfilling the desires of adults.

Ignoring Science and Natural Law

This is a massive break with medical science and natural law. In the past, the term “infertility” has referred to couples who are unable to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse.

To be sure, infertility is not just one thing. It is, rather, a symptom of any number of issues that may prohibit a couple from naturally conceiving a child. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list many examples, including polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis in women and low sperm motility in men.

These physical hurdles to reproduction can, in theory, be treated. So, they don’t include the fact that a man needs an egg from a female, or a woman needs sperm from a man, to reproduce.

That’s true of every man or woman, respectively, because in nature it takes one fertile male and one fertile female to conceive. No individual, and no same-sex couple — whether two men or two women — can naturally bear children.

That doesn’t mean they’re infertile. It just means they don’t satisfy the conditions for reproduction.

Getting Insurance Companies to Pay for “Infertility” Treatments for Those Who Aren’t Really Infertile

The redefinition goes far beyond ASRM’s desire for inclusive language. It’s designed to get health insurance companies to cover the cost of infertility treatments for those who — by sexual lifestyle or simple preference — don’t satisfy the natural prerequisites for reproducing.

As more states move to provide coverage for in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and intrauterine insemination, liberals hope to tack on same-sex couples and single persons, too.

With donor egg, sperm, or embryo, these guidelines encourage adults to create a child with whom they will have no biological connection.

The ASRM’s redefinition of infertility will corrupt every part of the fertility industry, which few state or federal laws govern. Instead, clinics rely on guidelines from fertility groups to provide ethical standards and legal guidance.

It’s no surprise that a recent bill on reproductive technology from Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., includes these same standards. Indeed, in cahoots with the groups Men Having Babies and Resolve, Illinois redefined infertility in 2021. Three other states — California, Minnesota, and New York — are considering similar legislation. 

“Fertility Equality”

Men Having Babies claims that such a definition is needed to achieve “fertility equality.” The group claims, in other words, that a definition based on nature — on biology — is discriminatory. But for a law to discriminate, a person’s sex (in this example) must be a secondary factor. When it comes to childbearing and pregnancy, one’s sex is essential.

For good or ill, same-sex couples and single persons already may access in vitro fertilization. Nonetheless, such reproductive technologies come with a steep price tag of $15,000 to $30,000 per round. This makes it unaffordable for many nontraditional parents, especially those on one income.

Some may think that redefining fertility is progress, since it means more people can afford to have children. Of course, children are good, and we need more of them. But this doesn’t mean every approach to childbearing is good or praiseworthy.

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When it comes to the use of reproductive technology, the law and fertility guidelines should prioritize a child’s best interests over adult preferences. This means it matters how doctors create children, and to whom such children are given.

Children benefit most when their biological parents raise them in an intact family. And unlike adoption, donor conception intentionally severs the biological relationship a child has with his mother and father. It also opens the door to a host of poor outcomes.

When a nonrelated adult is present in the home, children are 11 times more likely to suffer physical or sexual abuse. On average, a child’s educational, psychological, and emotional outcomes plummet. What may seem like a simple matter of an “inclusive definition” for adults is an earth-shattering loss of relationship for the child.

It’s one thing for the law to allow all single people and same-sex couples to use in vitro fertilization or surrogacy. It’s another thing to change the legal definition of infertility to subsidize their desire for kids.

Lawmakers should oppose this radical rejection of biology and put a stop to the redefinition of infertility. 

 

Emma Waters is a research associate with the DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at The Heritage Foundation.

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